Design Engineering

Quebec’s FPInnovations invents wood-based mask filter

By Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press   

Materials Medical

Forestry organization aims to develop full, biodegradable masks by year’s end.

Cellulosic filter media made from wood fibres. (Photo credit: FPInnovations)

OTTAWA – A Quebec-based forestry innovation organization says it has figured out how to make a single-use face mask filter out of fully-biodegradable wood products.

Stephane Renou, the president of FPInnovations Inc., says it could be a game-changer for the environment and for a made-in-Canada supply of masks.

Earlier this year an article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology estimated that during COVID-19 the world is throwing out 129 billion face masks every month, some of which become litter that eventually washes into oceans.

Currently the vast majority of disposable face masks are made out of two outer layers with a filter between them, all made from woven plastic fibres.


Renou says over eight weeks this summer 20 FPInnovations employees created, tested and then perfected a filter made entirely from various wood pulps, that can block 60 per cent of small particles. In contrast, the research organizations says a typical cloth mask provides filtration efficiency of approximately 30%.

He says they are now working to increase the efficiency of the filter material to surgical use levels and on developing the two outer layers. Their hope is to have a full mask completed by the end of the year.


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